Master Mechanics At Work
By Paul Browne 

Well Sunday was an exciting day, Shipmates. You see, that's when we made the heart of the Canuck Canoe come to life. Never mind that the Canoe's mighty Bukh engine had slept motionless for a dozen years under a wash tub. The tanks, filters, and fuel lines had all been installed; the instruments hooked up; the battery and starter solenoid were all wired. Sunday was the day. 

"Call me over when you get ready to twist her tail," Vernon said, "I don't want to miss it." 

So there we were, just as ready as we could be. I kicked off the proceedings by opening the vent on the final filter and wiggling the priming lever on the lift pump. Squiggly-squish, squiggly-squish, up and down, up and down. 

"Jeepers, Vernon. Seems to be taking an awfully long time," I commented sorely. 

My thumb was starting to hurt, squiggly-squish, squiggly-squish. "Wul, you got a real long line there to the for'd tank," Vernon said. And he was right, it was some 25 feet of 3/8" line. So Vernon climbed down into the bilge and took over, and he wore his thumb out too. 

"The lift pump check valves must be a little tired from sitting so long," I said, and we both sat there pondering our next move. 

"Hey! I know," I said in an inspired tone, "I'll pull the vent hose off the tank and stick the vacuum cleaner hose over it. You open the drain on the Racor there, and we'll blow the fuel right out of the tank and down the hose!" 

"Sounds like it might work, if'n the vacuum's got enough push," Vernon said, and we both assumed our stations. Vernon was standing in the bilge next to the Racor filter, and I was squatting with the vacuum cleaner next to the tank, way up forward. 

"Drain open?" I called out. 

"Yup," Vernon hollered back. 

"Contact!" I yelled, switching on the blower. "Anything?" I shouted over the racket. 

"Nope," Vernon replied, "Whoa! Turn it off! Turn it off!" I dropped the hose and stood up to see. A solid stream of fuel was blasting out the bottom of the Racor, splashing down around Vernon's feet, and Vernon was closing the drain frantically. 

"Well that did it, Vernon," I observed excitedly. 

"Sure did," Vernon agreed with somewhat less enthusiasm, taking off his right shoe and dumping the excess fuel out of it.

Now normally I would have been concerned about Vernon's shoes, but the ones he had on were too big for him anyway. And I was getting wrapped up in the adventure of the thing. We had fuel to the lift pump for the first time! 

"Now lemmy see here," I thought out loud, wiggling the lift pump lever again. Squiggly-squish, up and down, up and down. 

"Yes! It's at the filter vent!" At this wondrous sight, Vernon forgot his shoe troubles. He grabbed a wrench and cracked the injector fitting. "Far 'er uhp, " Vernon hollered. I twisted the compression release lever and hit the start button. 

Now I should pause here to explain that the Canuck Canoe's mighty one-lunger doesn't have the usual starter arrangement. Instead of a starter motor engaging a ring gear, the Bukh has a combination starter-generator, which drives a great honking flywheel via a v-belt. So it doesn't go rrr, rrr, rrr like a car when it starts. Rather you open the compression release, hit the start button, and it slowly speeds up. It goes tick-ity, tickity, tickity, faster and faster. And then you let go of the compression release lever and the engine goes tickity-whump, tickity-whump. That great honking flywheel and a devilishly clever set of internal counterweights are supposed to make the engine really smooth. The Bukh is a Danish engine. Clever folks, those Europeans, donít you think?

So anyway, Vernon had the injector nut cracked. I opened the compression release and hit the starter. The poor old Bukh woke up confused. Twelve years of rust and neglect. The v-belt squealed, then turning slowly at first, she started to roll. Tick-it-y, tickity, tickity-tick, faster and faster it whirled. I squeezed the priming bulb that we had hooked up to the water pump. Yes! There was cooling water flow! Round and round went the great honking flywheel. And now there was fuel at the injector! Vernon tightened the fitting. The moment had arrived! Tickity, tickity-tick, faster and faster. It was now or never! I let go the compression release. Tickity-whump, tickity-whump, tickity-pbbfftt, tickity-cough! A great black cloud farted out the aft end of the Canuck Canoe! Fabulous, fabulous! "Vernon! Vernon!" I hollered over the noise, "She's gonna go! She's gonna go!" Vernon nodded and grinned. Tickity-cough, tickity-cough, putt, putt, ppppppp, tickity-putt, putt, vrrrrrr, and she was off Shipmates! Running smoother and faster, and faster and faster!! "Slow 'er up Vernon," I yelled. Vernon pushed on the fuel control cable.

But there wasn't any slowing her up Shipmates. It was like she had a mind of her own. And furthermore, she didn't much appreciate being disturbed after a dozen years of sound sleep. The Bukh roared her disapproval. Vernon worked the fuel control lever back and forth - no effect. He pushed on the fuel shut-off button till his finger was white - no effect. I kinked the fuel line, opened the filter vent - nothing. I glanced over the bulwarks. Jeepers! The black smoke was billowing out so you couldn't see the boat next to us! Then Vernon started hollering, 

"It's red hot! Whoo-hoo! Red hot! Whoo-hoo-hoo!!" And he danced about nervously in the hatch aft of the engine. I leaned over and saw what he was excited about right away. A nut close to the fuel pump was smoking and glowing red! Now about this time, all the noise, and smoke, and stink, and confusion convinced Vernon that he wanted to be somewhere else. He started scrambling up onto the aft deck to get away from the screaming she-devil. But Vernon's pants brushed against the cherry-red nut on the way out, melting the polyester in them in several places, and causing the cotton to smoke a bit. 

Well Shipmates, you'd think that between us two geniuses we might realize that all we had to do was reach over and flick the compression release lever, but no sir! We went on pinching and kinking and cussing and venting, and the Bukh kept on raging and roaring and belching smoke, until finally I got my knife out and cut the fuel line downstream of the Racor. And that stopped her. The two of us collapsed, I into the cabin, and Vernon onto the deck where he sat swatting at his pants. 

Now normally I would be concerned about burning up somebody's pants, but this was Vernon, and those pants were too big for him anyway. The real tragedy is that the Canuck Canoe has a very discontented engine. The fuel control is obviously messed up. Maybe parts of it were melted. And the mess downstream of the exhaust! Soot and oil and water sprayed everywhere! All over the neighboring boat. Ooo, it's depressing Shipmates. 

Editor's Note

Old Browne never did get his mighty Bukh engine to behave. After the run-away adventure, he yanked her none too gently out of the boat, rented a trailer, and hauled her off to a diesel shop. Some $700 later, the Bukh was back in the boat and running. But she was never happy about it. On the shakedown cruise, she managed to crack her injector pipe. And when that was fixed, she stubbornly seized her tranny going astern. So now there's an anxious new Yanmar in the Canuck Canoe, a young pup, ready to go anytime. The beastly Bukh sleeps happily again in Browne's garage. 


Home | Articles | Books | Columns | Projects | Links | Subscribe | Boat Index